A Growing Understanding of the Mental/Oral Health Connection

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Mental health is a field as complex as medical science, and the interrelation between the two is becoming increasingly apparent. Unlike medical care, mental health care tends to be treated as a luxury by insurance companies and people alike. As a result, this can make it difficult to get the needed treatment for these conditions. This leads to a series of correlated problems that are exasperated by the lack of treatment. Among the consequences of these problems? Failing oral health and advanced tooth decay.

How Oral and Mental Health Are Interrelated

A trend that has been noticed by both medical science and mental health researchers is a growing incidence of dental health problems in those suffering from mental health concerns. Studies focusing on this connection have revealed that dental health concerns in mental health patients often worsen. The reasons for this vary from the consequences of self-management techniques used by these patients to an inability to manage a routine effectively as a result of depression. Proper dental health care for these patients requires an awareness of the condition so that steps can be taken to address the problems that result.

A collection of references was collated by a study that was recorded in The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. This collection of data was put together as part of a mission to improve the understanding of the oral/mental health connection. The evidence produced revealed positive correlations between conditions that affect executive function, such as depression and failing oral health. The cause suggested by the data was difficulty maintaining important health routines such as those related to dental hygiene. Another fundamental element resulted from an overabundance of hygiene practices resulting from manic episodes that caused overbrushing and aggressive flossing.

Resolving Oral Health Concerns From Mental Health With Your Dentists

As an understanding grows about how oral and mental health is connected, it’s clear that new solutions are going to need to be developed to address them. As a result, dentists are taking extra steps to provide care that is tailored to those who are currently managing concerns with their mental health. The best solutions and results are reached when the patient coordinates with the dentist. The following are examples of the steps being taken:

  • Improved Communication: Communication is a powerful keystone in the changing face of dental health care for these patients. By informing their dentist of the struggles, they face these patients can get advice, specialized care in the form of new approaches or more frequent appointments, and more.
  • Relaxation Techniques: Those who experience anxiety as the result of a phobia of the dental office or being in social situations can benefit from relaxation techniques. Separate waiting rooms, heightened priority to get in and out faster, sound-canceling headphones, sedation, and more are all techniques used.
  • Informed Awareness: Staying proactive about changing dental care options and the availability of new treatments help these patients as well. New techniques provide new solutions that may address the concerns they face.

The stigma around mental health can make receiving proper care, even dental health care, difficult. Our office is dedicated to eliminating this stigma in our practice and beyond, in the interest of forming effective treatment relationships with our patients.

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Dr. Henry Lam DMD

DR. HENRY LAM
Born and raised in Vancouver, Dr. Henry Lam received his Doctor Of Dental Medicine at the University of British Columbia and has full-time dental practice since 2005. After joining 8West Dental Care in August 2014, he’s brought valuable experience to his patients in the Calgary, AB area.

Dr. Henry Lam DMD

DR. HENRY LAM
Born and raised in Vancouver, Dr. Henry Lam received his Doctor Of Dental Medicine at the University of British Columbia and has full-time dental practice since 2005. After joining 8West Dental Care in August 2014, he’s brought valuable experience to his patients in the Calgary, AB area.

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